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Oct 05, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BUST FAT, BOOST HEALTH

Trimming the fat off even a normal-size body weight can add health benefits, Harvard University scientists report. They found slimming down even among the 35 percent of Americans considered of proper size -- between 22 and 24.4 on the body mass index, a weight-height ratio used to define obesity -- can reduce odds of suffering heart disease and other conditions associated with overabundant girth. The study, published in the Harvard Men's Health Watch, notes new U.S. Dietary Guidelines say men with BMIs below 18.5 are underweight; between 18.5 and 24.9, healthy; between 25 and 29.9, moderately overweight, and 30 or above, obese. The study found men with BMIs between 22 and 24.4 were more likely to develop at least one weight-related illness than their leaner peers with BMIs between 18.5 and 21.9.

IN WEIGHT MATTERS, PORTIONS COUNT

The way to a slimmer body is through trimmer servings, suggests a U.S. study showing students with plates piled high overeat by up to 40 percent. "The more food we served to the college-student volunteers in our eating study, the more they ate," says David Levitsky, Cornell University professor of nutritional sciences and psychology. "Since we know that restaurants are serving larger and larger food portions, we think that larger portions could be a major factor responsible for the increase in overweight and obesity that is so evident today." The paper, published in the Journal of Nutrition, supports previous studies showing Americans are expending fewer calories through physical activity than they did 20 years ago, yet they are taking in an average 200 more calories a day. The study also showed people can wolf down 500 grams (18 ounces) above normal before feeling uncomfortable. In addition, the researchers found, the size of breakfast or between-meal snacks does not affect the amount consumed at subsequent meals.

SOME CHILDREN WITH CANCER CAN SKIP RADIATION

German researchers report some children with Hodgkin's disease can skip or reduce radiation therapy if chemotherapy has shrunk their cancers. Hodgkin's, a malignant tumor of the lymph nodes, is typically treated with combined chemotherapy and radiation, often producing serious side effects, especially in children. The scientists at Moabit Hospital in Berlin found some children can forego the radiation treatment without jeopardizing their potential for being cured. The analysis of 800 cancer studies was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's annual meeting in Atlanta.

SUPPLEMENT CAN BEEF UP BONES

Israeli scientists say the supplement Femarelle may help ease such symptoms of menopause as hot flashes and sleep disturbances while building bone density. They said at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society Femarelle does not appear to cause adverse side effects. The authors note their encouraging news comes on the heels of a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that cast doubt on the effectiveness of soy protein containing isoflavone as a reliever of menopause symptoms. Dr. Israel Yoles of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer distinguished between DT56a, the active substance in Femarelle, and soy products that use extracted isoflavone. Femarelle is made from tofu, a derivative of the soybean, Yoles said. After 12 months on Femarelle, the women reported a 75 percent reduction in vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes, a 64 percent decrease in headaches and 70 percent plunge in joint and muscle discomfort, Yoles said.

(Editors: For more information about FAT, contact Christine Junge at (617) 432-4717 or

Christine_Junge@hms.harvard.edu. For PORTIONS, Susan Lang at (607) 255-3613 or SSL4@cornell.edu. For RADIATION, Brian Ruberry at (301) 948-1709. For BONES, Laurie Lindenbaum at (914) 241-0086, ext. 26 or llindenbaum@robinleedyassociates.com)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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